Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) is in the midst of rolling out a more sophisticated smart card system as part of the transits move to a new electronic fare program.
According to Cincinnati.com, electronic fare boxes have been equipped on the transit’s nearly 350 buses. A rider will tell the driver this destination and tap their card to the fare box, which will automatically deduct the fare and print the remaining balance on the card.
Metro has been testing smart cards over the past several months with workers at a small group of companies, Cincinnati Public Schools students and Metro employees. Stored value cards – with $10, $20, and $30 – will go on sale August 1; the smart cards by year’s end.
The cards can be used to buy transfers and pay for multiple fares. Eventually, Metro will offer riders the option of smart cards that can be loaded online, in any amount at any time. Smart cards also will be available for Fare Deal riders, a program for eligible riders 65 and older, Medicare recipients or people with disabilities.
The newer boxes have been installed since November 2011, in a $4.5 million project funded 80 percent by the Federal Transit Administration. They collect $22 million in fares annually and represent about 27 percent of the transit agency’s operating revenue, Metro says.